News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Jeff Simpson, Las Vegas Review-Journal
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Dec. 2, 2003 - Add Uncle Sam to the list of Binion's Horseshoe creditors.
The Internal Revenue Service has placed a tax lien on the 52-year-old downtown gambling hall, claiming the Horseshoe has yet to pay $5 million in past due payroll taxes.
Horseshoe owner Becky Binion Behnen and her husband, property boss Nick Behnen, were unavailable Monday for comment.
Phoenix-based IRS spokesman Bill Brunson on Friday said the Nov. 5 lien doesn't mean the tax agency will seize the Horseshoe casino.
"The lien merely gives us the authority to take action," he said.
The taxes date back to fall 2002, Brunson said.
Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander declined to comment on the tax lien filling, or on Binion's Horseshoe's financial health.
He also declined to say whether regulators have stepped up their monitoring of the casino's solvency.
"It's a private operating company," Neilander explained.
The lien is only the most recent money problem suffered by the Horseshoe.
Nevada Power officials said in November that the Horseshoe was behind on its electric bills.
The property is also behind in payments to the Culinary Union.
Binion's Horseshoe also is in a legal battle with the Fremont Street Experience over more than $2.5 million in payments to the pedestrian mall.
The property also has been behind on lease payments owed to Horseshoe landlords.
The control board in 2002 forced the casino to shut down slot machines as well as several table games and its keno operation when the Horseshoe's bankroll dropped below the state's minimum requirements.
Within a week Behnen was able to add enough cash to the bankroll to reopen the machines and games.
One source said it's only a matter of time before the casino is forced to close or be sold.
"They owe money to the IRS, they owe money to the Fremont Street Experience, they owe money to the (union) trust funds," said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The question is, will the state pull the plug? It would put 900 people out on the street, but at the same time, it's tough for regulators to allow the Horseshoe to continue to operate with impunity."
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(c) 2003, Las Vegas Review-Journal. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.